Getting Recovery from a Construction Accident; New York City Has Responsibility for Crane Collapse and Construction Workers’ Deaths


The East 91st Street and First Avenue crane collapse.

It appears that New York City’s Buildings Department will have some responsibility for the May 30th tower crane collapse on East 91st Street.  Two construction workers were killed.   See New York Daily News article here.

This is a remarkable development in that typically the City is not a prime defendant in construction accident cases.

Months before the collapse the then head of the department’s Cranes & Derricks Department warned that the tower crane was at risk of “catastrophic failure.”  The crane had been repaired by a weld which failed.

Bethany Klein, Building Department's former chief of cranes and derricks, had deep concerns about the safety of  tower cranes (see e-mail below), including one that collapsed, killing two in May.  Bethany Klein, former Head of Buildings Department Cranes & Derricks Department.

A year prior to the collapse the crane had a crack in its turntable.  The Building Department head revoked the crane’s operating license and urged the owner to review the damage.  She opined that the crack was most likely caused by fatigue.  The crane owner at one point claimed that lightning had struck the crane.  The owner also claimed a lightning strike for another damaged crane.

Furthermore, when the cracked turntable was repaired, three additional fractures were discovered.  Ms. Klein, the Buildings Department official who noted these problems resigned before the May 30th collapse.

It appears that the City may be getting drawn into this case by reason of its negligent inspections and monitoring.

Typically, in a crane collapse case the City is not a key defendant.  Generally, the key target-defendants would be the building owner, general contractor, and crane contractor.  However, evidence is mounting that there may be a case against the City for negligent licensing, inspections, and monitoring.

We have handled many construction accidents.  If you or a family member or friend have been involved in a construction accident, please call me to discuss your case at 800-581-1434.

Mark E. Seitelman, 11/17/08,,


One Response to Getting Recovery from a Construction Accident; New York City Has Responsibility for Crane Collapse and Construction Workers’ Deaths

  1. jstbook says:

    The construction industry has one of the highest occupational accident rates.

    There are many elements on a construction site which can lead to an injury – scaffolding, power tools, heavy equipment and toxic chemicals are dangerous enough on their own.

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